The 1989 Legislature was kind to public education.
"We did as well or better than other areas of government financially," said James R. Moss, state superintendent of public instruction. A 3 percent increase in the weighted pupil unit - the state's basic support per child - will allow districts some room for raises, maintaining benefits and handling growth.Legislators authorized spending about $20.4 million over Gov. Norm Bangerter's proposed budget, and education got about $11.8 million of that increase, Moss said.
"We met most of the goals of the Education Coordinating Council," a group that represents the major education units, Moss said. "We didn't get more for assessment, but we did get more for technology and at-risk programs."
State school board members rejoiced at failure of a bill that would have changed the way they are selected. HB296 would have created nominating committees in the school board districts. The committees would have selected three nominees, one of whom would be chosen by the governor for a yes/no retention election.
"We had a lot of support from local school boards," said board member Darlene Hutchinson. "We are determined as an education system to work together. Now is the time to see how we can benefit by putting our energies together."
However, HB296 sponsor Rob Bishop, R-Brigham City, said he is determined to continue pursuing a change in education governance in Utah. The issue will become an interim study topic, and Bishop says he'll see that it is assigned to the House State and Local Affairs Committee, which he chairs.
"I'm going to keep the issue going until the Senate is willing to face it," he said.
Also, some education programs received supplemental funding from the 1989 Legislature. They include:
- Education for the handicapped.
- Projects to identify and help students at risk of dropping out.
- Custom Fit, a program for specific work training as an enticement for new and expanding business.
- Technological expansion to enhance both management and instruction in schools.
- The State Schools for the Deaf and Blind, which got more money to create salary equity with other state teachers.